In this fervent adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s 1933 play Blood Wedding, Spanish director Paula Ortiz has shifted the focus of her source material from men battling to possess a woman to, as the title indicates, the bride (Inma Cuesta) herself. The Bride is soaked in Lorca’s fatalistic romanticism, but now its doomed love triangle is seen through the woman’s conflicting needs: the safety offered by a wealthy, besotted groom (Asier Etxeandía) versus the reciprocal passion she feels with first love Leonardo (Álex García), who married her cousin (Leticia Dolera).
Ortiz and co-screenwriter Javier García Arredondo emphasize the earthiness of Lorca’s poetry, and Goya-winning cinematographer Miguel Amoedo uses the stunning landscape to dwarf and define the characters. (The surreal “fairy chimney” rock formations are a World Heritage site in Turkey’s Cappadocia region.) Conflict between Lorca’s rural Andalusian families is now rooted in a backstory of blood feuds and land battles that explains the ferocity of the groom’s mother (Luisa Gavasa) and resignation of the bride’s father (Carlos Álvarez-Nóvoa).
To enjoy The Bride means surrendering to its swooning intensity (a quality this version shares with Carlos Saura’s remarkable 1981 Blood Wedding, which documents Antonio Gades’ flamenco ballet). The mounting sense of dread is alleviated by glimpses of other genres: Leonardo on horseback evokes Westerns, while a beggar woman (María Alfonsa Rosso) brings to mind supernatural horror. This wraithlike Miss Havisham unnerves the already jittery bride, but she’s more than a portent. Ortiz employs the ruined figure to root events in the bride’s divided heart and portray fate as self-inflicted tragedy.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on August 7, 2016 by Todo Cine Latino
First published in LA Weekly, 2016.